I have a great deal of faith in the power of God. I believe strongly in the presence of the Holy Spirit. And I know that Jesus invites us all into difficult places to do important work on behalf of God's peaceable kindom. So, if my faith is so strong, why do I totally freak out about my local church's budget? What is the right balance between 1) faith in God's call, the power and presence of the Holy and Spirit, and responding to Jesus' call to unwavering discipleship, and 2) responsible stewardship, responsible bookkeeping, and realistically understanding the reality before us?
The church that I serve is filled with wonderful people. We are getting younger and more active each year. Yet we also face the stranglehold of the high cost of building maintenance, the expensive nature of having a full time ordained clergyperson, and the associated costs of other staff. I have no idea how to sort through the interaction of faith and reality, of risky ministry and responsible stewardship, of moving forward boldly and maintaining the community already assembled.
Tonight I'm not someplace that I had planned to be. My stomach is too upset, and I know 100% that this is stress related. We will find a way through this year; that much I know. What I don't know about are following years. Further, I know that our work to pare down our budget to meet what we can spend entails the devastation of line items that support certain missions and all programs and activities that support growth. We must find a way to support growth, not just maintain what we have. Even small churches need some growth, even if they intend to remain small.
My church is small. The people want it to remain small. In the intimacy of this community many people find family, support, and community. They have no desire for this to turn into a place where they are lost. How do we do this and also have financial health?
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